The Final Note We Found On My Father’s Laptop

Oh, Dad, finding your note on your computer was such a beautiful discovery! In the days after you died, Mom was on your laptop and stumbled upon it. When I woke that morning, and we were having breakfast, she shared it with us. We all wept as she read it — your personality was so evident, as was your deep love for Mom.

Hargen dad
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us, dad. (via Tracy Hargen)

The Note – just as it was written by my father

My Dearest Darling,

How many times have I said I love you?  

Impossible to answer as it would be more reasonable to ask how many times have I not said I love you. Even that is an impossible question to answer, but I know it is a very small number, and if I didn’t someday, it wasn’t because I didn’t think it.  It was probably only because I did not talk to you that day. After all, I was out of town (pre-cell phone).  This is perhaps the only letter you have not edited for me, and you should have.  

I have loved you since I first met you as a friend, and I just didn’t recognize what it was at the time, but I know now it was love. I may leave you behind, but I will never quit loving you. I hope you don’t have to read this for a long time from now, but if you do, just know my last thoughts were of you.

My list is complete, and my bucket is full.  

I started my list the day I was born and just didn’t know it. 

I have added to it every day and did not know it. My bucket list is not a list of what I have yet to do but of what I have done.  

I can think of another lifetime of things that I still want to do, but I am satisfied with what I have done, and now it is time to go home. 

My list is on a file called Things I Have Done. It might make interesting reading for you at your leisure. 

I am dying a slow death but not a particularly painful one. I am slowly running out of oxygen, so it gives me time to think and plan. I have lived a full life, and I do not regret going I only regret leaving everyone else behind. You have a lot to do in your lifetime, and I only regret that I will not be here to see you through it. My greatest wish is if there is another life, an afterlife, Heaven, or reincarnation you will someday be there with me.  

If I can prepare a place for you, please know that I will, and I will be waiting with open arms but please don’t hurry as you still have a lot to do before it is your time. I have always wanted to come back as an Eagle because I have always wanted to soar through the sky without a care in the world. The Eagle mates for life and, most of all, I want my dear wife with me in the next life just as she has been here in this life.  

As a Citadel Man, I have always associated death with the playing of Taps and, it is the last thing that I will hear before I go to join the Long Grey Line. I see The Greek is in line and calling me so I must go.  

Welcome Home Joe   

(My Dad, Joe, was a Citadel man – The “Long Grey Line” refers to the Citadel alumni who went before him. “The Greek” was one of my Dad’s dearest friends who died tragically young in a car accident. And yes, we did find his list of Things I’ve Done — very interesting reading indeed!)

I am so grateful that mom shared dad’s letter with us

Thank you, Mom, for letting me share it — I know it was bold of me to ask, but this kind of love needs to be out in the world…

You left us all such a gift — one that we treasure to this day — even though I can’t get through it without tears running down my face. It still brings me comfort — and I think to myself that everyone should love and be loved like this.

We all know you were suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, and you had tried everything — the lung transplant surgery was your last resort. And though you were doing it so you could breathe easier, we all know you were doing it for us because we desperately wanted you to live.

Judging by the date, you wrote this the night before your surgery.  You don’t sound scared — you sound reflective, grateful, content, and still madly in love…

I hope you know what a gift your note was — when Cole read it at your funeral, we all stood up there together to support each other through it. Your love filled the entire church and carried us through that day and many hard ones that followed.

As I get older and look at my grown boys, I, too, am reflective, and I think about the legacy I will leave them. Like you, I don’t want to write a long list of things I still want to do.  

Instead, I am writing about all the Things I’ve Done, and I try to be brave and daring — like you!  

I could write a book about all the things you did in your life and about what an amazing father, man, friend and husband you were, but your note says it all. Dad, I love you for so many reasons, and one of the biggest ones is how you loved us — especially the way you loved Mom — for almost 50 years. I promise you this…your love lives on in Mom, in all of us.

You are the eagle soaring overhead – a sight that always makes me stop and just stare —grateful for your brief visit — reassuring me that you are still around.

Although my dad survived the lung transplant, it was very difficult, but my Mom never left his side while he recovered in the hospital, and she brought him home from the hospital just as she promised him she would. He died days later when he went to take a nap and rest. She was there with him, and it was sudden and quick — an embolism.  

This is for all those who have lost someone they love — may you always feel their love close to you. And may you feel the love and devotion in this beautiful note.

More Great Reading:

A Love Note to My Father: “Dad, I’m Fine”

About Tracy Hargen

Through her writing and work as a mental health advocate, Tracy Hargen shows people the importance of talking openly about difficult issues and getting help. Her family’s very personal journey with depression can be found on CBS This Morning. Look for her work on Grown and Flown and in the book Grown and Flown: How To Support Your Teen, Stay Close As A Family and Raise Independent Adults.

Read more posts by Tracy

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